The following letter was sent to NRC on February 22, 2008.
February 22, 2008
Ms. Mary McLaren
Human Resources Branch
National Research Council
Montreal Road, Bldg. M-58
Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6
Dear Ms. McLaren:
RE: AS Group Vacation Leave Carry-Over and Grandfathering Provisions
I am writing to you to discuss a problem that we are experiencing with respect to the implementation of the above provisions of the new AS Collective Agreement. The new agreement was signed only on January 10, 2008, almost a full 8 months after the issuance of the Arbitral Award. While the cap on carry-over came into effect at the time of the Arbitral Award in May 2007, the grandfathering provisions did not come into effect until the January 2008 date. Information on the implementation has only recently been communicated to AS Group members.
Up to 50 AS Group members have current carry-over banks of more than 35 days. For the most part, these are long service employees, many of whom now earn 6 weeks of annual leave each year. These are also conscientious employees who have often put the work of the Council ahead of their own leave entitlements. In other cases, the workload simply does not allow the taking of large blocks of leave. Given the late date of the implementation of the grandfathering provisions, these employees have not had the opportunity to make the necessary plans to use the annual leave they earn each year, let alone use any of the banked days. Many now find themselves in a situation where not only will they be paid out the balance of their current allotment; they will also be paid an additional 10 days. Of course, this will have serious tax implications for those employees.
Under normal circumstances, these employees would have had the time to plan their leave accordingly, so as to minimize the number of days that would be paid in cash.
They have not had that opportunity in this fiscal year and they see their current situation as a loss. As you also know, it is extremely difficult for most employees, and particularly those in the AS Group given the nature of their work, to take large amounts of leave just prior to the end of the fiscal year.
As such, I am requesting, on a one time only basis, that the new grandfathering provisions be only implemented for FY 2008/2009. This will prevent these employees from suffering a huge tax hit this year and will allow them to plan future periods of leave in such a way so as to minimize the tax implications of the pay out of annual leave.
Such an agreement on the part of NRC would serve to send the message that the Council understands the concerns of these employees and is prepared to be flexible in this regard.
I am prepared, at any time, to meet and discuss this request further.
I look forward to your response.
The RCEA had become aware, from members, of problems or potential problems regarding the cap on the carry over of annual leave credits. It was our view that a postponement of the new provisions until the next fiscal year would give members an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to minimize the implications. The RCEA believes that this was a sensible and reasonable request.
NRC did not agree. On March 17, 2008, a response was received. In it, the Director General of HR stated “I believe your members of the AS group had ample opportunities to become aware of the new conditions for the administration of vacation leave to and ensure they made efforts to use their current vacation leave entitlements….Less than a handful of these employees actually used their current vacation leave entitlements as of the end of January 08. I am convinced that delaying the application of the CAP provisions for an additional year would not be in the best interests of the NRC.”
We are very disappointed in NRC and their response. Surely the best interests of NRC should also include the best interests of its employees.
AS group members with more than 35 days of annual leave in their bank should make every effort to take as much of their annual allotment as possible. If requests for annual leave are denied, please notify the RCEA office as we will be tracking whether members are even able to take all their leave.